The 1988 US Open at The Country Club, Brookline, MA

The 1988 US Open in Brookline, MA was the beginning of my“volunteer” career at golf tournaments. At 18 years of age I found myself on the grounds of The Country Club in Brookline, MA as a “Floater” in the Transportation department. I did not realize it at the time, but being a floater was one of the best transportation jobs.

Golf tournaments have a variety of departments that contribute to the success of the event. In the case of transportation, you will have a regular shuttle service that does a defined route, for example to and from a hotel. Another example is the travel to and from a parking lot. Rounding out the department is a group of floaters that are on-demand services for a variety of trips.

The 1988 US Open is usually known for the playoff that occurred between Curtis Strange and Nick Faldo (The 1988 US Open). Behind the scenes in the transportation department, stories were also generated. One of the memorable stories was the moment when I was told to get one of the vans, pick up a sheriff and some other guy. I arrive to find a Sherriff and what I thought to be a “mobster” at the time based on all the gold jewelry, but he turned out to be a patent attorney from Chicago. My role was to drive them around the neighborhood of the US Open while they examined the merchandise being sold and determined if it was counterfeit. If they found it to be counterfeit, we loaded it into the van. While I don’t remember how much “loot” we collected, I do firmly remember that the patent attorney exclaimed “I’m just a patent attorney from Chicago trying to enjoy a golf tournament!” When I returned to “home base”, I remember the Chairperson remarking to me “I thought you might like that job” and I did!

When I was not assisting local law enforcement, I often found myself driving the caddies back to their hotels. My memorable experience from this was driving Steve Williams, Greg Norman’s caddy, back to the hotel on Route 1 in Dedham. The memorable part of this story included the fact that I was not 100% familiar with how to get from The Country Club to Dedham. Entering one of many rotaries, I started to drift to the right exit when Steve Williams said, “I think we go this way mate” and he pointed to another exit from the rotary. Fortunately, Steve was right and we landed back at the hotel without an incident.

Toward the end of my shift one evening, I was told that I had to drive a shuttle van full of people to the Sheraton in Boston. I do not remember exactly the people in the van, but I do remember following another van closely in order to avoid getting lost! My van had a variety of players and caddies on board. While the names escape me, I do remember the front seat passenger exclaim, “That was not a fun golf course today”.

The final epilogue to my Transportation career at The Country Club included the Monday playoff finish. Unlike other golf tournaments, if two players are tied at the end of a USOpen, it is an 18 hole playoff. I remember standing behind the 18th green with a Sony Watchman barely holding a signal as they came down the final hole. One of the entertaining parts of standing behind the 18th green occurred when the greenskeeper person arrived to insert the flagstick into the cup. The greenskeeper managed to get each side of the stands to try to yell louder than the other. It provided some welcome entertainment as we waited for the eventual winner. Years later I would learn that the greenskeeper was a classmate of mine at Stonehill College that put in that final flagstick.

My transportation career started at the US Open and carried over into two years at the Nashawtuc Country Club and eventually a Chairperson role at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Those stories are for another day.

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JJ Donovan

JJ Donovan

Product Manager specializing in financial services